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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gov't broke law by taking away The Heat's permit


The Bar Council has charged that the government had breached the Federal Constitution when it revoked The Heat's the permit  before giving a fair hearing.

Siding journalists’ fight for a free press in Malaysia, the Bar's president Christopher Leong said today that the government had not only abused the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 when it stopped The Heat from publishing two weeks ago. It also wrongfully seized The Heat's property.

"It appears from news media reports that the decision to suspend the publication permit for The Heat was made before the publisher had been given the right to be fully heard," Leong (right) said in a statement.
 
"An indefinite suspension is an oxymoron, that is, a contradiction in terms, and is effectively a revocation.  

“The indefinite suspension of The Heat would appear to be in breach of Article 13 of the federal xonstitution, which provides that no person shall be deprived of property save in accordance with law."

Noting that it had just been abused, Leong, therefore, reiterated the council's stand that the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 be repealed.

"It is an archaic piece of legislation that no longer holds any relevance in a modern democracy.  

PM stitching up critics' mouths?

The Act has been used and abused to influence, bully, intimidate, threaten and punish the press. Such legislative and governmental control of the press, including licensing regimes, should end, " he said.

Leong also questioned whether Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (right) was trying to silence his critics.

"The timing and speed of such indefinite suspension by the Ministry of Home Affairs gives rise to the perception that the government is seeking to muzzle and punish a member of the media for an article it published in its Nov 23-29 issue headlining a report on the alleged 'big spending' of the prime minister, " he said.

Leong, however, clarified that he was not backing a liberal press that could publish anything it pleases.

He suggested the formation of a Media Council or Media Ombudsperson to regulate media owners, publishers, editors, and journalists regarding offensive content and conduct.

This media council would also be tasked to ensure a separation of duty betweenmedia owners and media content makers for a fully independent media.

"Malaysia needs, and Malaysians deserve, a free and independent press, as well as a press that is ethical, responsible and fair," he said.

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